A Beaufort County official appears to be keeping his post overseeing the county tax rolls.
With 100 percent of the votes reported as counted, Beaufort County Auditor Jim Beckert held a lead in the Republican primary against deputy county treasurer George Wright.
Beckert led Wright with about 52 percent of the vote — 8,273 to Wright's 7,552, according to unofficial results posted online Wednesday.
Beckert appears to have overcome an opponent from a rival county office for a second time and fended off accusations from his own local party last month of having used an anti-Semitic slur in correspondence with a Beaufort County GOP official.
"A huge challenge of character was presented to me and, through soul-searching and prayer and guidance and direction from many mentors and friends, they helped me understand what was at play," Beckert said. "And to be the bigger man and to move forward in a positive light has always been my goal and direction.
"This race was about doing what is right for the citizens and lowering their taxes. There are many that have taken objection to that."
Wright has been the county's deputy treasurer the past three years. His boss, Maria Walls, and Beckert have disagreed over their respective office's powers related to setting deadlines, producing and mailing tax bills, and collecting money.
Walls, at one point, said Beckert's office had incorrectly taxed thousands of vehicles, with owners billed too much and too little. Beckert acknowledged the problem but said it was a long-standing issue related to the computer software.
Wright said he decided to run after noticing data errors that were resulting in incorrect tax bills.
He unsuccessfully ran against Beckert in the 2014 Republican primary. Wright said late Tuesday there was still enough uncertainty to withhold comment on the results.
"I'd like to thank all the people who publicly supported me and my campaign and a special thanks for my hardworking campaign committee members," he said. "And I felt that I ran a positive campaign."
In May, Beaufort County Republicans asked Beckert to write a formal apology to party Chairwoman Sherri Zedd — who is Jewish — for twice addressing her in emails as "Arbeit Zedd." "Arbeit" is a German word related to work and appeared on gates above Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust.
Beckert said Zedd had given him the name and that he didn't mean its use as a slur. He reiterated Tuesday he didn't mean to offend Zedd and considered the matter closed.
Beckert campaigned on an overhauled computer system he says is in compliance with state guidelines and taxes vehicles at the lowest possible value. He said he had removed more than $150 million of excess property off the tax rolls and added $90 million of previously untaxed property.
Wright was a 20-year Marine Corps veteran and worked in the county IT department before the treasurer's office. He pledged to restore working relationships within county departments.